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SEMO vs Texas A&M-CC Odds, Picks: Target the Total in First Four Game

SEMO vs Texas A&M-CC Odds, Picks: Target the Total in First Four Game article feature image

Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Phillip Russell (SEMO)

SEMO vs Texas A&M-CC Odds

Tuesday, March 14
6:40 p.m. ET
Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
Texas A&M Corpus Christi Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
Odds via Bet365. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

If you’re getting a little déjà vu from seeing Texas A&M-Corpus Christi playing in a play-in game, that makes sense. The Islanders played in this exact game last season: Tuesday night, 16-seed play-in game.

That group fell to Texas Southern, 76-67, as it was unable to produce enough interior scoring to stay with the athletic Tigers.

Notably, almost the entire Islanders squad is back. TAMU-CC ranks 11th nationally in minutes continuity, per KenPom, and the entire top-six returned from last year’s NCAA qualifier.

Coach Steve Lutz is also back, impressively winning the league tournament in both of his first two years at the helm. The former Matt Painter assistant could be in line for quick promotion up the Division I ranks.

SEMO, on the other hand, had not made the NCAA tournament since 2000. The Redhawks lost five of their final seven regular season games, limping to a fifth-place finish. However, they flipped the script in the OVC Tournament, winning four games in four days to punch a ticket.

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks

SEMO’s biggest edge should be getting to the free-throw line. The Redhawks have multiple quick, powerful guards who can get downhill and draw contact.

Phillip Russell and Chris Harris both rank in the top 55 nationally in fouls drawn per 40 minutes. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Harris was especially brilliant during SEMO’s run to the OVC Championship. He poured in 81 points over the four-game stretch, and he took a staggering 45 free throws.

SEMO will not be the only team living at the charity stripe, though. The Redhawks rank 355th nationally in defensive free-throw rate, and TAMU-CC loves to attack inside.

If this one turns into a free-throw shooting contest, you have to favor the Islanders. TAMU-CC ranks second in the entire country in free-throw percentage (80.0%).

SEMO is well behind that mark at 71.8%, though Russell and Harris — the Redhawks’ most frequent free-throw takers — are north of 77%.

Expect SEMO to ramp up the pressure defensively. Brad Korn’s squad led the OVC in defensive turnover rate, and TAMU-CC may be without its lead ball-handler (more on that shortly). If the Redhawks can jumpstart their offense with some steals and runouts, their chances to win increase drastically.

Interior play is something of a concern. SEMO ranks 326th nationally in average height, and the Redhawks ranked in the bottom half of the OVC in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates.

TAMU-CC isn’t a towering squad itself, but the Islanders are way more active on the glass.

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Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders

Perhaps the most important element of this handicap is the likely absence of Terrion Murdix for TAMU-CC. The Islanders’ point guard is a crucial piece; he ranks fifth nationally in assist rate (KenPom) and excels at getting into the teeth of the defense to set up his teammates.

He is also a terror defensively, ranking 17th nationally in steal rate.

Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury in the Southland Tournament.

On/off numbers indicate his absence should matter. According to Hoop-Explorer, the Islanders are 9.3 points worse per 100 possessions when he is not on the floor (adjusted for competition). Both ends of the floor suffer.

Of course, TAMU-CC beat Northwestern State despite Murdix going down, so burying the Islanders would be premature.

Murdix’s impact could change the tempo of the game, as well. SEMO is one of the fastest teams in the country, and TAMU-CC has been more than willing to play track meets with its Southland foes.

However, the Islanders’ two conference tournament games had just 66 and 64 possessions. Part of that is due to the opponents, but no Murdix might depress TAMU-CC’s willingness to run.

Even without Murdix, TAMU-CC should have ways to score. The two-headed rebounding monster of Isaac Mushila and De’Lazarus Keys should eat against a smallish SEMO frontcourt.

The two combined for just 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting against Texas Southern last season. But this is a far better matchup for them.

SEMO vs Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Betting Pick

From a side perspective, the number feels right. TAMU-CC has been the better team all season, but no Murdix is a blow to that superiority. The Islanders make sense as a slight favorite.

The way TAMU-CC’s other players stepped up in Murdix’s absence stands out, though. Jalen Jackson and Trevian Tennyson made multiple big plays in the backcourt, and freshman Owen Dease — a stretchy 6-foot-8 ‘tweener — provided a much-needed offensive boost.

Given the Islanders’ experience in this setting — plus their elite free-throw shooting — I lean heavily towards the favorite.

I prefer the total, though. It seems inevitable that this game will have 50+ free-throw attempts, which obviously amps up efficiency. SEMO will do everything it can to push the pace, and even without Murdix, TAMU-CC should be willing to run.

Remember: the Islanders played a 78-possession game with Texas Southern in this spot last season.

I was able to get 152.5, but the market is currently at 154. I would bet it up to 156.

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